Current State of Anime Films Explains Mirai's Reduced Earnings
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu's new Mirai no Mirai (Mirai of the Future) anime film opened in Japan last Friday at #2 at the box office. The film earned 40% less than Hosoda's previous work, The Boy and The Beast, earned in its opening weekend. The new film's initial box office results may surprise some fans, and in response, the Real Sound website's Koremasa Uno decided to discuss a few possible contributing factors.
Mirai opened in 456 theaters in Japan on July 20 and sold 295,000 tickets for 500 million yen (about US$4.5 million). It earned 400 million yen (about US$3.59 million) of that amount on Saturday and Sunday. The film opened just behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which was on its second weekend of screenings. In comparison, Hosoda's The Boy and The Beast anime film earned 667,035,100 yen (about US$5.4 million) in its opening weekend.
With some critical reviews, Hiromasa Yonebayashi's Mary and The Witch's Flower anime film earned a total of more than 3.29 billion yen (about US$30 million) at the box office. The fantasy film opened at around the same time of the year as Mirai, and like Mirai, TOHO distributed it. Even if the new anime film receives somewhat unfavorable reviews, it is still expected to earn at least 3 billion yen (about US$27 million). The expected earnings prove the entertainment industry's strength when it comes to non-series anime films geared toward all ages that TOHO distributes in the first half of summer vacation.
Still, Studio Ghibli films, expecially those of Hayao Miyazaki, dominated the list of such TOHO works up until the release of When Marnie Was There in 2014. Of course, Miyazaki's works through the release of his most recent film The Wind Rises in 2013 took precedence above all else in that TOHO release slot. Such anime films are now inevitably evaluated in terms of their status as "post-Hayao Miyazaki works."
This year is the fifth since the release of Miyazaki's last work, and the situation surrounding these so-called "post-Hayao Miyazaki works" constantly changes. When Marnie Was There, which was the final work Yonebayashi directed for Studio Ghibli, was seen as a comparative failure after its release. Hosoda's The Boy and The Beast fought to make a name for itself in 2015. Then, a major upheaval began to hit the anime film industry from summer to fall of 2016.
Evangelion director Hideaki Anno's live-action film Shin Godzilla became a huge success, and Makoto Shinkai's your name. became a global phenomenon. Miyazaki announced he was returning from retirement to make the new Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?) film, which is tentatively slated for completion in 2019.
With that kind of sensational atmosphere, the impact of 2017's Mary and The Witch's Flower and this summer's Mirai is comparatively small. Directors such as Yonebayashi and Hosoda have found themselves in difficult situations as the wave of "post-Hayao Miyazaki works" continues.
It remains to be seen whether Miyazaki will be able to hit the target of opening his new anime film in 2019. Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki has denied that the film will open next year. Meanwhile, anticipation is building over Anno's new Shin Evangelion Gekijō-ban :|| film, the fourth and final in the series, which will open in 2020. Fans are also eagerly waiting for news of Shinkai's next work. Nothing is certain yet, but 2017 and 2018 may mark a low point for non-series anime films geared toward all ages that TOHO distributes in the first half of summer vacation.